Wortham poised for final season

After two coaching changes and the loss of many key ingredients to one of the nation's leading defenses, many fans might wonder which players will assume leadership roles for the fall.

Senior outside linebacker Cornelius Wortham, a native of Calhoun City Mississippi, will be the first to answer any questions about team leadership and where it can be found.

"I stepped up," Wortham said. "And so did Brooks Daniels and Charles Jones. Yeah we lost three monsters up front and some others that we'll miss, but that's just part of college football. Guys are supposed to graduate and move on. Teams should expect that and we're no different."

Wortham was second on the team in tackles last season with 95 stops. (Barry Fikes photo)

Wortham's words exhibit a cool confidence without showing a hint of cockiness. After experiencing the humbling roller-coaster ride that has been Alabama football over his four years, he knows all too well how to handle himself.

"You have to keep a level head and remain mature on and off the field," Wortham explained. "You can't take it for granted and be cocky about things because it can all be taken away just like that."

Unfortunately for Wortham and his teammates, they understand what that loss feels like. There have been several lows throughout the duration of his stay, but there have been a fair share of positives as well.

For every heart-breaking loss (see the 2000 homecoming loss to Central Florida), there has been a rewarding victory (see last year's game in Knoxville). The highs and lows of the past four years fit all too well at a school whose faithful call themselves the Crimson Tide.

But Wortham, courtesy of what former defensive coordinator Carl Torbush once told him, compares the journey to something completely different. He likens it to a marriage of sorts. Sure, there will be ups and downs, but there is no reason to think that one or two events can ruin the overall picture. And above all else, abandoning it all is not an option.

"I signed on February 2, 2000," Wortham said. "And when I did that, I made a commitment to the program, the fans and to myself. The way I see it, leaving wouldn't solve anything. I'm not the kind of guy that is going to run from his fears."

That is the attitude that exudes confidence in the younger Tide athletes who might not know how to handle what has been thrown at them. When they have questions about what to do, Wortham has no problems giving them a suitable answer, even if the questions do not pertain to football.

"I have two kids of my own so I'm not here to goof off. I'm here to make the most of the opportunity that has been presented. A lot of the guys see that and if they come to me for advice, I'll give it," he said.

Those opportunities are not limited to the gridiron. Wortham feels that there is no point in going to class for four years if you do not plan on graduating. And while he does have aspirations of playing at the next level, his priority is a degree in Human Environmental Sciences.

One of the Tide's top weight lifters, Wortham reached 480 pounds on the bench press at the Night of Champions.

"I want to be able to provide for my family," Wortham said. "And if something happens to where football doesn't work out, I'm still going to have to have a job somewhere. That piece of paper (degree) is very important to me."

Fans should not worry that his mind will be elsewhere come game day, however. Wortham explained that the team has not dropped off at all and will continue to be one of the best in the Southeastern Conference, if not all of college football. The only way to do that though, he says, is to leave all the negativity off the field and prove to everyone what they are made of on every play, no excuses.

"This is my last season here and I plan on making it my best one yet, " he said. "The statistics do not matter to me. A guy could have 150 tackles and the worst attitude in the world and I guarantee you folks wouldn't remember how many tackles he had. All they would talk about would be his attitude."

"As long as I am genuine, faithful and true, I'll be most proud of that. I want people to remember me as a guy who gave it his all regardless of the situation or circumstance, a genuine leader."

After three stellar seasons at the Capstone, and hopefully one more in store, Bama fans will be hard-pressed to remember Cornelius Wortham as anything less.

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